"Keep things simple. Leave the emotion out. Take good care of your people, and they will take care of your guests. It is a reciprocal relationship." Jack Widagdo states.
That philosophy proved to be the best way to steer his career for years in the domestic and international hospitality and resort space. His competent expertise in generating high hospitality standards validates his eligibility to hold his current position as the General Manager of the Alila Solo hotel.
Having spent most of his life in Australia, this Makassar-born man has grown in the Hospitality industry starting with his education at the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School in New South Wales. He became the first Indonesian student to graduate with the title of Dux of the Year (highest-ranked student in academic achievement of each graduating year) throughout the history of the School. After completing his studies, he moved to Asia-Pacific, with highlights in major brands such as Capella in Singapore and Bali (with brand Ayana), Four Seasons in Thailand, Kempinski in China, and Mandapa a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Bali. "I have spent the last 18 years in hotel management. 8 destinations, across different brands and various roles such as Food & Beverage, Rooms, Finance, Sales & Marketing, and finally Overall Management of the hotel. Exposures in both city & island resorts, large and boutique. Mainly luxury properties in the pre-opening stage, operational and as well as rebranding," he recounts his career history.
The most interesting time, as he explains his history, was when he started his first job - actually 3 (jobs) around the same period. "It's the 3-job-in-a-day story. The first job was in a large luxury hotel in Sydney (now Sofitel). My job there was to run the food from the kitchen to table in one of their Italian Restaurants at lunch time. That same day, in the morning, I ran the breakfast operation for a similar-sized hotel at Kings Cross, Sydney. In the evening, I worked for the renowned Rockpool Catering at various extraordinary places (including the museum, the penthouse of a building, boardroom, etc)." Now as we can see, everything's paid off. Today he enjoys a busy day as a hotelier in one of the most luxurious hotels in Indonesia. “Life as a hotelier, no day is ever the same," he states. "In the morning, we could have a VIP Ministerial visit. In the afternoon, preparing for a wedding in the ballroom. By the evening, taking care of media. On another day, it could be the whole day out on sales appointments, training or interviewing candidates."
Jack emphasizes that the world of hospitality is a people's industry, where, as the superiors, one should never ever forget to help the people around to move forward and succeed, and grow to fulfill their leadership role. Because after serving as a General Manager, this position has taught him that the team is everything. "And then comes patience, passion, thick skin, and don't forget to bring your own style to the table," he adds.
Many of Alila's guests can be said to be accustomed to luxury. Jack also never stops innovating, by creating new luxury touches that always make the guests feel at home and at ease. "At Alila, we focus more on the 'surprise' elements as the name suggests - Alila in Sanskrit and our tagline means "surprisingly different" (that is when least expected). At our Level 30's Sky Lounge for example, unlike other hotel's Executive Lounge, myself as the GM and EAMs engage with guests at least 2-3 times daily. That experience sticks in most guests’ minds. Another example, on the weekend, we offer 2 options for breakfast. For the early guests, we serve the international buffet. For the late risers, we provide all you can eat dim sum," because he realized that the nature of luxury is something relative. Luxury according to one guest is not necessarily luxury for the other guests.
Enjoying life and living in Solo, the man who loves quiet time to read books accompanied with a cigar and single malt, starts his day at the office precisely at 7 am every day. "Be a servant and a leader at the same time. You may not be able to please everybody but be genuine and stay positive. When it comes to building success, it's about teamwork and the people around you," he adds. "Help them to get there as well. Your brand (or reputation) speaks for itself after you leave the room."
by Santi Zulbachri